Residential apartment buildings in District 2, HCM City (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - Low-cost housing projects planned by the municipal administration should have the same quality of construction and infrastructure as their commercial counterparts, Dinh La Thang, Secretary of the HCM City Party Committee, has said.

Addressing a conference on February 27 to gather ideas on building economical housing projects in the city, Thang said low-cost social housing did not mean new slums in the city.

The social housing areas should have healthcare services, markets and schools, he said.

Thang also emphasised that low-cost housing need not mean building smaller houses. New materials and new technologies should be used to cut costs, he added.

He affirmed that the city will spare no effort in trying to meet all targets on developing houses for workers and other low-income people. It will co-operate with real estate firms and developers and provide them with favourable conditions to develop social housing, Thang said.

Referring to Binh Duong’s success in building very cheap social housing, Thang said HCM City would study the neighbouring province’s determination and creativity, but apply it flexibly, based on the city’s own ground realities.

He suggested that greater co-operation between real estate developers and between them and suppliers of building materials would help cut down construction costs.

It was revealed at the conference that the Cement Corporation has pledged to cut down by 300,000 VND (14 USD) per tonne the price of cement used for low-cost social housing projects in the city.

Three developers also volunteered to work on social housing projects on a non-profit basis.

Le Hoang Chau, Chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Development Association, said the city might be able to build 30sq.m-apartments for just 100 million-200 million VND (3,900-8,700 USD), as Binh Duong had done. However, only a minuscule percentage of the population, about 10,000 people, would get them, which is not fair for so many people that need low-cost housing.

Developers at the conference agreed that it was not feasible to build apartments for 5 million VND (220 USD) per square metre.

The representative of one company said the best way would be to build 15-20sq.m apartments for long-term leases of up to 50 years.

“This is the best way to avoid slums,” he said, explaining that “when leasing, the quality of projects are still under the control of developer. People who do not obey regulations will be kicked out.”

He also suggested that the city should only sell 30-35sq.m apartments in 12-15 storied buildings.

Tran Trong Tuan, Director of the HCM City Department of Construction, said the city had a high demand for 40-60sq.m apartments priced between 350 million VND (15,300 USD) and 1 billion VND (43,800 USD).

The department would work together with companies to find ways to reduce housing prices. It would also co-operate with other sectors to improve administration procedures, Tuan said.

A report released at the conference by HCM City Real Estate Association said the city would develop 39 projects with 45,000 condos up to 2020.

About 20 percent of this will be for lease, 60 percent will be paid for in installments and 20 percent will be sold outright.-VNA